the museum of americana

a literary review

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska—Poetry by Katie Assarian

I
 
Anywhere but Alliance, Nebraska,
there would have been a fence
to tell us the right distance to stand
apart from the attraction, signs
telling us what was unsafe to do there,
arrows starting at the parking lot.
But there, we could go immediately, from our cars
to the center of Carhenge,
standing by thirty eight vintage American automobiles
painted silver as stone
stacked upright in arches
in a place where otherwise the grass looks tall,
where there is grass.
 
There’s no path
between Carhenge
and the car part statues of a dinosaur and a daisy,
the time capsule car, the gravestone car,
or the six straggler cars
that seem to have stalled here by chance
while looking around.
There’s barely even a wear pattern
in the straggle-weeds
to see the way people usually take,
so the children can tell
that this is a place they can run off, and they do,
their parents and the other visitors
splitting off, too, pointing off
in as many directions as the cars were headed,
with an unspoken code of silence
as if we’re all still insulated from each other by steel
and our windshields,
only now
that we have this prairie
of destinations
to ourselves,
without lanes or road signs,
we are gladly
driving everywhere
we want to.

 
II
 
Henge, from hinge
or hang,
the pivot
that might be disastrous
like a medieval gallows.
Pendulous rocks
 

III
 
Automobiles
One buried halfway up the trunk,
taking a series of slight bows in the wind,
vintage Miss America
with a yellow loop of police tape around her
but nothing to really stop us
from getting up close if we want to
read the graffiti
to know who loved who
what year
 
skyscrapers
the two days the sun rise/set aligns
with the east-west grid of New York
and people rise/set to see Manhattanhenge
 
or the cars stacked end to end
 
memorials
The high school time capsule is almost due
to be dug up, the front bumper
peeking out of a mound
 
a gravestone car
marking the burial ground,
asking us to look down
from 1987
 
Here lie three bones of foreign cars.
They served our purpose while Detroit slept.
Now Detroit is awake and America’s great!  
 
benches by the gift shop
made from tailgates of Chevrolet pickups
and expired license plates on sale
from all the states and provinces,
 
already the travelers are nostalgic for their travel,
already more vehicles pull up the drive.

 

 

 

~~~

Katie Assarian is an artist, a mother of new twins, and a good citizen and city employee of Grand Rapids, MI. Katie has a MFA from the University of Wyoming. She posts small, hopeful poems at www.commonpoem.com. Her work has also appeared in Not Very Quiet, Midwestern Gothic, Every Day Poems, Rose Red Review, and a handful of art museums and galleries.